Kerala is a multifaceted journey from Dutch and British influences to profound natural experiences. The book reveals that great and small themes are interconnected, and that historical events and seemingly unrelated details have far-reaching consequences throughout a community and country.
The narrative of this journey is on a universal, abstract themes and a wide variety of ideas of Kerala cultures, admiring nature and preserving ecology.
Best season to visit - November to March.
Lost World Adventures itineraries can be tailor-made according to your plans and preferences: budget, hotel selections, travel dates, optional excursions, length of trip, etc.
You will be met at the Cochin Airport and transferred to your hotel.
Your day is free to walk on the beach and view the unique Chinese fishing nets and watch the fisherman throw their mammoth nets into the sea.
Overnight Brunton Boatyard, breakfast included - 2 nights.
Resurrected from the remains of a Victorian shipbuilding yard, Brunton Boatyard gives the modern traveller a unique opportunity to dwell amidst the shadow-plays of 19th century history.
The recreated period building blends in perfectly with its colonial era surroundings: once-great trading houses from the high era of commerce, when the pepper of Kerala was as precious as gold. Like the cultures they celebrate, the hotel's interiors too, are an eclectic blend of English, Portuguese and Dutch influences.
Kochi (colonial name Cochin) is a vibrant city situated on the south-west coast of the Indian peninsula in the breathtakingly scenic and prosperous state of Kerala, hailed as 'God's Own Country'. Its strategic importance over the centuries is underlined by the sobriquet ‘Queen of the Arabian Sea’. Informally, Cochin is also referred to as the Gateway to Kerala.
From time immemorial, the Arabs, British, Chinese, Dutch, and Portuguese have left indelible marks on the history and development of Cochin. Over the years, Cochin has emerged as the commercial and industrial capital of Kerala and is perhaps the second most important city on the west coast of India (after Mumbai/Bombay).
Its proximity to the equator, the sea and the mountains provide a rich experience of a moderate equatorial climate.
After breakfast, guided tour of the city breathing in the air full of spiced happiness hours:
Jewish synagogue - The Paradesi Synagogue, in a corner of Jew Town, is more than a hundred years old and houses many rare antiques. The synagogue, that woos many visitors, adds to the quaint charm of Mattancherry.
Enter the synagogue and the large main hall arrests your attention with display of rare antique objects that add to the grandeur of the place. The light falling through the large open windows make the sight of chandeliers and lamps more delightful these glass chandeliers dangling from the ceiling belong to the 19th century and were imported from Belgium.
Note - The synagogue is closed on Fridays, Saturdays and Jewish holidays.
St Francis Church - St. Francis Church is India's earliest European church. Built by the Portuguese in the early 1500's, this wooden church with its simple whitewashed facade became the model for later churches. It was dedicated to St. Anthony. Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama was buried here and then moved to Portugal some 14 years after his death. His gravestone still remains as well as gravestones of Portuguese and Dutch settlers.
Chinese fishing nets - When you think about Cochin, the first image that conjures up in the mind is that of the fishing nets. Also known as 'Cheenavala’ in Malayalam, these nets are over 500 years old and were first introduced by Chinese emperor Zheng He. Located at Fort Cochin, these cantilevered fishing accessories have over the years become a popular tourist attraction and an iconic representation of the city.
Depart after breakfast to jetty point to board houseboat. 90 kms/2 hours.
Cruise on the Backwaters, spending the night onboard one of Kerala's converted "moving masterpieces”.
House boats or Kettuvallams are one of the major tourist attractions in Kerala. Houseboats also known as Kettuvallam or rice boats were used to carry rice bags in the earlier days.
These houseboats are uniquely designed using local materials like bamboo poles, coconut finer ropes, bamboo mats, carpets etc. These houseboats invite you to enjoy in a fabulous way to explore the fascinating beauties of backwaters. With their languid grace and quaint design adds another dimension to your cruise in the shimmering blue waters.
These boats have single room & double rooms having a private balcony with comfortable chairs. The rooms are fully furnished with attached bathrooms. Each boat has a fully equipped kitchen and an experienced cook to prepare authentic Kerala cuisine with seafood specialties and fresh vegetables.
We chose eco, traditional houseboats as opposed to the very modern ones now available. Your world is a spacious houseboat all your own, your senses filling with silence and space, at their purest and most alluring.
So lean back on a cushion and glide beneath the inverted bowl of the sky. Look outside, look within. Look beyond both. The Japanese call it Satori. Breakfast, lunch and dinner included onboard.
After breakfast, depart for Kumarakom for rest, relaxation and optional Ayurvedic treatments.
Kumarakom slumbers on the banks of the famous Vembanad Lake, which is a part of Kuttanad ('granary' of Kerala). The Vembanad Lake with its majestic canals, streams and tributaries along its banks weave an intricate and enchantingly beautiful web. The gorgeous green of the fringed palms ripple in the blue waters and blend into wavelets.
Evening at leisure.
Overnight Coconut Lagoon, breakfast included. There are so many facets to the Coconut Lagoon experience. The heritage of the old feudal villages of Malabar. The vast frolic of the Vembanad lake. The shimmering waters of the canals that criss-cross the property. Together, they become an experiment in ecological living that remains startlingly different.
Coconut Lagoon is located in the Kerala district of Kuttanad, or the land of the short people. A wag has it that this name came about because the folks here are always knee deep in paddy fields.
The distinctive architecture of Coconut Lagoon has its own tales to tell. Some of these mansions are over 150 years old, and were transplanted here, beam by beam, timber by timber, from the old houses of the county that had fallen to ruin.
Day at leisure. Optional - You have the option to go for a village walk which can be followed by bird watching in the nearby sanctuary.
On this day, you drive to the spice capital of India and home to the Periyar Wildlife Reserve, renowned for its sprawling spice and tea plantations. Your drive takes you over rolling highlands and through carpets of tea bushes, estates of tall rubber trees, and gardens of coffee, cardamom, and pepper.
The aroma of spices fills the pristine air as we cross the countryside to reach the Periyar Wildlife Reserve, one of the premier reserves of Southern India and home to the wild elephant, bison, antelope, monkeys, and many other animals.
Since the only way to travel through the sanctuary is by boat, you can cover large areas in a short time and experience the wilderness from a unique perspective.
There may be no other sanctuary in the world where elephant behavior can be watched in such absolute comfort and safety. This is also home to wild dogs, sloths, Indian bison, wild pig, deer, four types of monkeys, the occasional tiger, and a multitude of colorful birds.
Overnight Spice Village Resort, breakfast included. Spice Village Resort is an ideal place to experience 5000-year old healing Ayurveda therapies. Each cottage features ethnic Kerala décor. This is a place for everyone who loves nature: a place to fill your lungs with fresh mountain air, to savor the rich fragrance of cinnamon and cloves, and to watch young elephants drinking at the water's edge.
The multi-cuisine restaurant at Spice Village offers an enchanting menu that serves everything from traditional Kerala cuisine to Chinese, Continental, and special herbal vegetarian delicacies.
Ancestors of the Portuguese and Jewish population of Cochin once visited as traders before turning the natural bounties of the area into wealth. Pepper and cardamom, cinnamon and ginger, nutmeg, mace, and anise became nature's taste factory in the 14th century, as Cochin became nature's harbour, the port of lading for a spice-hungry world.
Later, the area came under the Kingdom of Travancore and many of its plantations, orchards, and hunting lodges date from that time.
This morning you have a special treat—an early morning guided walk through the forest led by highly experienced guides (former poachers). Your guide, who now protects the forests and its creatures, will regale you with adventure stories about their former lives as poachers.
You’ll hike into cool, green forests and out again into vast, sunny meadows. This is an area populated by an astounding array of wildlife including elephants, Sambar deer, the brilliant blue kingfisher, the great pied hornbill, and more than 100 species of butterflies.
Maybe, if you’re extremely lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of one of Periyar’s 41 protected tigers.
In the afternoon, proceed for a boat ride on Lake Periyar to observe local fauna and flora in the best possible way before returning the resort.
After breakfast transfer to Munnar along a breathtakingly beautiful route. 110 kms/2-3 hours.
Overnight Windemere Estate, breakfast included. Windemere Estate is where the manicured tea gardens merge with the lush green forests of Western Ghats. Hallmarked for its exclusiveness and high range hospitality, Windermere is a 60 acre Cardamom Plantation. The presence of the Planter's family next door ensures security and local advice devoid of a hotel atmosphere.
Munnar is breathtakingly beautiful - a haven of peace and tranquility - the idyllic tourist destination in God's own country. Set at an altitude of 6000 ft in Idukki district, Munnar was the favored summer resort of the erstwhile British rulers in the colonial days. Unending expanse of tea plantations - pristine valleys and mountains- exotic species of flora and fauna in its wild sanctuaries and forests - aroma of spice scented cool air - yes! Munnar has all these and more.
It's the place you would love to visit - it's the place you would wish never to leave.
Famous for being the World’s Best Tea Estate you have the day to witness the nurturing of tea plantation to the process of manufacturing and packing. You can also visit the Tea Factory if production is on during your visit.
The foremost tourist attractions in Munnar are the tea gardens. It is a unique experience to watch the entire process of tea making, from picking of the tea leaves in the estates to the packing in the factories. If you are a tea connoisseur, then you can taste and choose form a range of flavors of tea.
There are quite a number of interesting places to see around Munnar. Attukal is ideal for long trekking and is a picturesque place with waterfalls and hills. Devikulam, located at a distance of km from Munnar is a beautiful hill station with exotic flora and fauna around.
The Sita Devi Lake here is an ideal picnic spot and is famous for its mineral water besides the trout-fishing facilities. Nyayamakad, 10 kms form Munnar is another picnic and trekking point and is also famous for its waterfalls. Yet another picturesque place in the vicinity is Pallivasal, about 8 km from Munnar which houses the first hydropower project in Kerala. You should not miss out the thrill of the echo effect at Echo Point.
Day at leisure.
Optional activity - Surrounding Munnar are the steep mountains of the Western Ghats which is an ideal venue for a trekking enthusiast. This would be a 4-6 hours trek, giving you the picturesque view of the colonial town of Munnar. Options are to go to either of the two hills– Chokanadu or Lakshmi hills. You have the option to go for hiking to further explore the beauty of Munnar.
After breakfast drive back to Cochin. 150 kms/3-4 hours. Overnight Brunton Boatyard, breakfast included.
Transfer to the airport in Cochin.
The guides we had and the places we saw and stayed were superlative.
- Bonnie K, Jun 2012